The Gowanus Canal just sort of sprawls, slack and flat and brown and grease-slicked and awash in pesticides, PCBs and metals, across 1.8 miles in South Brooklyn. It is one of the most polluted waterways in the United States, which is a fact that essentially no one disputes. So in one sense, it’s not a surprise to read that the Gowanus Canal was tagged a Superfund site by the EPA on Tuesday. If there has ever been a more deserving Superfund site it… well, it would’ve had to have been pretty freaking nightmarish. But while the Gowanus is certainly apocalyptic enough in its noxiousness to deserve the Superfund label, there were some in New York City — including Mayor Bloomberg and several big real estate developers — who fought against that designation. Some of this is easily explained — the Toll Brothers at one point planned a 600,000-square-foot mixed-use development (with a freaking esplanade) along the Gowanus; Michael Bloomberg has almost certainly never been to Brooklyn — but what’s the debate, here?
Tag Archives | Mireya Navarro
The good news is that many of the 111 recommendations are either general and commonsense enough that no one could oppose them — add “environmental protection” as a “fundamental principle” in the “intent” portion of the construction code; enforce said construction codes more fully; streamline NYCDEP’s policies for removing asbestos; streamline and consolidate regulation practices. A large number are similarly unobjectionable by dint of their small-bore nature — it’s hard to imagine anyone getting too hacked-off over the idea of recycling fluorescent lightbulbs more efficiently or making staircases and water fountains more available. But a great many of them, though, are pretty freaking bold, and notably bolder and more aggressive than you’d imagine from reading the desultory coverage of it.
Mireya Navarro’s recent piece in the New York Times about the energy performance of LEED buildings does not really shed much new light on a topic that many of us have been paying close attention to for the past two years, particularly in the aftermath of the controversial New Buildings Institute study that claimed LEED buildings performed, on average, 25 percent better than the CBECS database. Nevertheless, Navarro’s piece seems timed to coincide with USGBC’s press release of August 25 that announced a new Building Performance Initiative which will complement the LEED Version 3.0 Minimum Program Requirements’ ongoing performance data reporting obligations in order for projects to maintain their LEED rating and avoid the unsavory potential consequences of decertification. Any commentary on this press release – at least in the blogosphere – appears to have been lost in the August doldrums, but I think it is worthwhile to consider an effort which could ultimately have major repercussions for the underpinnings of the LEED system itself. However, many building scientists will tell you that simply collecting more data does not necessarily translate into improved performance. Consider (after the jump) the following letter that was submitted to the New York Times by ASHRAE Fellow and Distinguished Lecturer Larry Spielvogel, P.E., in response to the USGBC press release announcing the Building Performance Initiative, which Mr. Spielvogel was kind enough to allow us to reprint here at GRELJ.